California Unemployment: Mom of 3 locked out of legitimate EDD account, forced to send kids away

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
CA mom unable to feed kids after EDD freezes legitimate account
The California EDD and banking partner Bank of America have been freezing unemployment accounts suspected of fraud. One Bay Area woman had $9,000 in her account, but was locked out. With no money, she sent her three children to live with their aunt.

HESPERIA, Calif. (KGO) -- As we've reported, the EDD has shut down 350,000 unemployment claims, trying to weed out fraud. However, it's inadvertently cut benefits to legitimate workers all over the state.

They say their only source of income has been locked up for months and many had nowhere to turn except 7 On Your Side.

The EDD says it's blocking suspicious accounts; mostly those with multiple claims at one house. But workers say they've proven they're legitimate, and still EDD won't release their money. Now it's separated one mom from her kids.

Roxzan Macon provided in-home care to the elderly until the pandemic hit, all but ending home visits. Thankfully, unemployment benefits kept her going.

Until now.

"I was getting groceries for myself and my kids," Macon said. "We were in Walmart and the transaction was declined. And it said the account was closed."

VIDEO: Why is Bank of America draining EDD bank accounts?

Bank of America has been draining money out of countless EDD accounts, leaving many Californians bewildered and broke.

Her EDD account still had $9,000 in it. But when she tried to use it, she saw this ominous message: "Your account cannot be accessed."

"So you call, people hang up on you, you're on hold two hours, they say, 'Let me transfer you,' you're on hold another 45 minutes and then the phone goes dead," Macon said.

EDD finally told Macon she had to verify her identity to unlock the account.

"So I uploaded my driver's license and utility bill, they said it'll take three or four days," said Macon.

But a week later, her account was still locked. She called the EDD.

VIDEO: 'People need help': As many as 1 in every 3 EDD claims is fraudulent, security firm says

Macon recalled, "She says, 'Well, you didn't upload your social security card.' I said, 'My social security card? They told us not to send the social security card.' She said, 'Yep that's the problem... you have to start all over.'"

Macon uploaded more documents. But her account stayed locked, and the rules changed again.

"The gentleman said, 'Well, you know, did you write your social security number on the paper?,'" Macon said. "I was like, no, I didn't. He said, 'Well that's the problem... you gotta do it all over again.'"

Macon uploaded four more documents. But no response from EDD.

"I probably called maybe 3,200 times," she said. "Yes. Some people say it'll take 10 days. Some people say it'll be after the new year. I do understand there is a lot of fraud out there. But what about those legitimate people? What about those legit claims the ones who actually need their money?"

Money quickly ran out.

VIDEO: Homeless CA mother, living with young son in her car, finally receives EDD benefits

At long last, Shelby Hughes's EDD delayed and desperately-needed unemployment benefits came through -- but people all over California have also stepped in to offer support.

"I had a yard sale," Macon said. "I had to sell clothing and stuff just to buy food and stuff."

It wasn't enough.

Macon said, "How can you tell the kids, 'No, you can't have anything to eat. No, we don't have enough noodles. We don't have any noodles.' How much are noodles? Get noodles, a pack of noodles for 30 cents right now. That's heartbreaking for a parent as an adult to tell a child that they can't have anything to eat. It's very sad."

If only the EDD would unlock her account.

"They yell at you for calling every day, 'Well we got your notes, you called earlier, just have to give us time,'" Macon said.

"It's gonna be three months," she continued. "It's gonna be the first of the year. 'Just give us time to do our job.' Do your job? Really?"

"Makes you feel less than human. Make you feel like trash," Macon said.

She sent her children to live with their aunt. "You don't know how many days and nights I've cried. Absolutely, I'm missing my children. I couldn't properly take care of them."

VIDEO: EDD mistakenly takes $10,000 from SF man's account in attempt to fight suspected fraud

One San Francisco man had a shock when the EDD clawed back thousands of dollars in benefits -- a mistake stemming from their fight against scammers.

Macon saw 7 On Your Side's reports about others locked out of their accounts, still awaiting clearance too. We asked EDD about her case. A spokesperson said: "It's heartbreaking to hear any kind of story like this. It's why we are prioritizing efforts to quickly authenticate legitimate claimants. Records indicate that this claimant was sent at least a couple of emails and a text message."

That doesn't help Macon.

"Like I say, what about those that have legitimate claims? Fix those. Fix those legitimate claims," she said.

After much back and forth, we got EDD to at least send future payments to her via check - that $9,000 is still locked up.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

App users: For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window